Oakley crowned Miss DSU once again

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Miss Delta State University 2018 was crowned Nov. 9 in the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus.

Gillian Oakley, a junior music education major from Southaven, Mississippi, will represent Delta State at the Miss Mississippi Pageant in 2018.

Her victory marks only the second time in the university’s history that a contestant has claimed the crown twice. She was previously crowned Miss DSU in 2016. Mary Ann Collins is the only other repeat winner when she won the crown in 1959 and 1961.

“I’m incredibly humbled to be Miss DSU once again,” said Oakley. “Now that I’m two years older, and I’ve seen all that goes into this competition, I think I have an even greater appreciation. I talked myself into thinking I didn’t have a chance because I had won once, so it was such a relief to hear my name called again.”

Oakley said she was unaware that only one other person was a repeat winner, and she would work hard throughout the year to honor the crown.

Oakley sang “My Way” by Frank Sinatra for the talent portion of the competition. Her platform is suicide awareness and prevention. In the upcoming months, she will be busy visiting different local and state schools promoting her platform.

Contestants at the pageant competed in five categories: private interview, evening gown, swimsuit, talent and on-stage question.

This year’s first alternate was Chesney Mardis, a health, physical education and recreation major from Mount Dora, Florida, and the second alternate was Antoinque McGee, a social work major from Pace, Mississippi.

The Miss Delta State University Pageant is produced by the University Pageant Board and sponsored by the Student Government Association.

Stratton named Cochran Congressional Fellow

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Delta State University student Paxton Stratton was recently selected as a 2018 Congressional Fellow for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Stratton, a junior HPER (health, physical education and recreation) major, with a minor in coaching and mathematics, will move to Washington D.C. in January and remain there through the spring semester. The program selects one Delta State student each year to serve on Cochran’s staff, with the goal of providing a better understanding of the legislative process.

“I’m absolutely elated to be accepted as a Cochran Fellow,” said Stratton, a native of Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s a big-time opportunity, and I think it will be a great learning experience for me.”

Stratton said he is excited to learn how the legislative process works, having never previously delved into politics.

“I’ve never really been into politics, but this will be a great way for me to learn the ins and outs of politics,” he said. “I think it will also help my get my foot in the door with people who are changemakers in our country.”

Stratton is driven to design prosthetics after graduating from Delta State, and he said understanding the political environment would be helpful for making prosthetics more affordable to people in the future.

Stratton is also a member of the Delta State men’s soccer team.

Delta State has a long-running tradition of sending fellows to Washington, and Delta State President William N. LaForge served as Cochran’s chief of staff during the 1980s.

“It is professionally and personally gratifying to me that we continue this wonderful relationship with the senator’s office in cooperation with Delta Council and Staplcotn because of the affiliation with Sen. Cochran going back to my days as his chief of staff,” said LaForge. “Paxton will have an excellent experience there, and their office will benefit from his outstanding background at Delta State.”

The fellowship program is funded through Delta State University, the Delta Council and Staplcotn. Additionally, Stratton will receive a stipend from Cochran’s office.

The Delta Council is an area economic development organization representing the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. The organization pioneers efforts to solve common problems and promote the development of the local economy. Founded in 1921, Staplcotn (Staple Cotton Cooperative Association) is the oldest and one of the largest cotton marketing cooperatives in the United States.

Flight Team places second at Region IV Safecon Flight Team Competition

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Members of the Delta State University Precision Flight Team, from left to right: Matthew Hill, Brandon Baioni (team advisor), Ryan Hudson, Emma Jeffries (captain), Adam Holthouser (co-captain), Tristan Crockett and Parker Tomlinson.

The Delta State University Precision Flight Team recently took home second place honors at the Region IV Safecon Flight Team Competition in Waco, Texas, from Oct. 30-Nov. 3.

Delta State’s team was second in flying events and tied with Texas State Technical College for second in ground events. This resulted in the team receiving second overall and an invitation to the National Competition at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, in May of 2018. The results are the best finish for the team in recent years.

Delta State also received the Red Baron Team Sportsmanship Award and the Competition Safety Award.

The competition focuses on quality, exact and accurate flying. Teams are graded on a number of skills, including a navigation event, short-field landing event, power off landing event, computer accuracy, pre-flight inspection event, and more.

“I am proud of this team because they faced many challenges over the past two years preparing for competition,” said Brandon Baioni, flight team advisor. “The team showed how a little extra effort pays off in the end. The aviation program offers many tools pilots need to be successful in their careers, but I believe that flight team puts these individuals above the others offering them even more tools.”

The current student roster includes Emma Jeffries, Adam Holthouser, Ryan Hudson, Melvin Tucker, Parker Tomlinson, Tristan Crockett, and Matthew Hill.

“It’s a great feeling to know our team was able to work hard, stay focused and were able to pull out second place,” said Jeffries, team captain.” The flight team offers me a chance to fly, work and socialize with my aviation peers. It’s also a great opportunity to make connections outside of DSU as well.”

Delta State has been competing at the Region IV Safecon Flight Team Competition since 1982.

“I think that through the hard work of preparing the team for competition and the team member’s hard work and efforts, the once quieted Delta State University Precision Flight Team has once again regained a voice,” added Baioni.

Learn more about opportunities through Delta State’s Department of Commercial Aviation at

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year – from poverty to abundance

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Growing up in Rosedale 19 miles from campus, Percy Malone just wanted to heed the encouragement his mother Selma had given him – go to Delta State.

He hitchhiked to Cleveland and enrolled and knew that pharmacy was a decent vocation after spending much of his youth working in area pharmacies as a soda jerk. He also knew from all of his odd jobs that he wasn’t afraid to fail, he just wanted a chance to succeed. Succeed he did as he took his education from both in and out of the classroom and applied himself in pharmacy school, in his business life as a pharmacist and pharmacy owner, and then as a representative and senator for Arkansas. His success has led to him being named Delta State’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for 2017.

“I didn’t like being poor, so I took her advice,” the retired Arkansas state senator said. “People ask me about that, and I tell them I was tired of being poor. I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor. And, I like being rich a lot better.”

With his father Willie working minimum wage jobs, the Malones lived in a two-room house with no running water, indoor plumbing or electricity until Percy was a junior in high school. When he headed for Delta State, he didn’t leave behind his upbringing but brought the lessons he learned to campus to help build a foundation for a strong future. His older sister Ruth went to work at Baxter Healthcare and gave her brother a credit card to buy gas once he headed to Oxford to pursue his pharmacy degree.

“She never married and has almost 200 hours at Delta State – a music major who became a teacher. She stayed with the family and took care of my sister with cerebral palsy and my mom,” Malone said. “Once my younger sister and my mom passed away, I moved my older sister to Arkansas to take care of her. I put her in a half a million dollar house with a full-time caregiver, and I still haven’t been able to pay her back for being able to use her credit card. A lot of people helped me along the way.”

Long before he sat in his senate and representative seats in the Arkansas legislature, long before he established a chain of pharmacies across Arkansas, long before he traveled to Oxford to learn his vocation, he sat in classes at Delta State soaking up the knowledge and wisdom of several teachers that would influence him the rest of his life.

“I had a professor in physics – Dr. Wiley – he took a special interest in his students,” Malone said. “It was an affordable school, and when I got out, I was prepared for pharmacy school at Ole Miss.”

After receiving his pharmacy degree in 1965, Malone began working with I.B. Fuller in Arkadelphia. Fuller became a mentor for Malone’s community involvement, which has ranged from serving on the Board of Directors of the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce to serving as a delegate to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention in 1980. He was also a member of the state Board of Pharmacy.

His political career began in 1995 when he was elected to represent District 36, which he did until 1999. In this capacity, he served as co-chairman of the joint budget committee and as a member of the insurance and commerce committee, the public health and welfare committee, and other important committees and subcommittees. Malone’s stint in the state senate began in 2001 and ran through 2012 when he retired.

While representing the state in his senate seat, Malone served on the labor committee, as chairman of the administrative rules and regulations committee and as chairman of the task force on abused and neglected children.

“This is a great honor from a school that helped me get out of poverty,” Malone said. “I have fond memories of being able to go to Delta State. It was a hand out and not a hand up.”

Malone completed 17 courses at Delta State that allowed him to enroll in pharmacy school. He had been working odd jobs since the age of six – working in pharmacies, delivering newspapers and much more. But he knows that he didn’t achieve his success all by himself.

“God’s been good to me, and the people of Arkansas have been good to me. I’ve had a lot of help. I tell people all the time I’m a lot like that turtle on a post. I didn’t get up there by myself,” Malone said. “I was very fortunate. I’ve grown up to be blessed to help other people.”

In his time in Arkansas, Malone saw promise in a young Bill Clinton as the state attorney general and began supporting him in his political future.

“We became good friends, and I saw how he tried to improve education in Arkansas and improve the economy and then get beat down and slapped down. Bill Clinton inspired me to get into politics, but I remember what an impact a fellow named Walter Sillers had. I used to deliver newspapers to him,” he said. “If there hadn’t been a Delta State, I don’t know where I would have ended up. They allowed me a good start to get to where I am today.”

These days, the retired senator is kept busy as president and owner of W.P. Malone, Inc., which includes a chain of AllCare Pharmacies across Arkansas, PWYW Managing, Inc., WPM Community Holdings, Inc., Exactmed, Inc., and Malone Supreme Angus Ranch, Inc. Malone and his wife Donna are members of Third Street Baptist Church in Arkadelphia. He has two daughters, Amy Malone Norcross and Emily Malone Ervin, and five grandchildren.

A 19-mile hitchhike from Rosedale to Cleveland to the classrooms of Delta State became the first few steps of a journey of a lifetime for Percy Malone – retired Arkansas senator and Delta State University’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for 2017.

The official hashtag for the 2017 Homecoming is #DSUHC17. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To purchase tickets to the Alumni Awards Gala, contact the association at 662-846-4660 or http://www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/homecoming2017.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).


Delta State Alumni Hall of Fame winners announced

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Each one is special. Each one a proud Statesmen. Each one now a Delta State Alumni Hall of Fame inductee.

Each year the Delta State Alumni Foundation honors alumni and friends who have achieved a professional distinction and made significant community service contributions to the local, national and/or international level and who have brought honor and distinction to Delta State University. This year, retired Arkansas Sen. Percy Malone, Becky Nowell (’81), Dr. William Morehead (’84) and Richard Fulwood (’72) will be inducted into the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame.

Sen. Percy Malone grew up in Rosedale and worked his way through pharmacy school at Ole Miss after attending Delta State in 1960. From there he became a pharmacist, a pharmacy owner, an Arkansas Representative and later state Senator all while building from the foundation that began on campus in Cleveland. Malone has also been named the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for 2017.

Becky Nowell
Becky Nowell –with more than three decades working in quality assurance/management with Baxter Healthcare Corporation – this Delta State alumnus retired in 2014. Along with her day job came plenty of opportunity to give back to the city of Cleveland, Bolivar County, Delta State and her church. But it all began with the opportunities she was afforded while a student at Delta State.

“One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life was going to Delta State University,” Nowell said. “I received a great education, and I learned a lot through the involvement in campus on how to manage people. And I learned a lot about real life.”

Her experience at Delta State – sorority membership and other campus organizations – “is where I learned a lot, and it prepared me for the real world,” the Clarksdale native said. “I came to Delta State in 1977 and a week after graduation started working at Baxter and never left Cleveland. I’ve had opportunities to relocate within Baxter, but I never wanted to leave Cleveland and the Delta State community. The school is a great asset and helps make Cleveland what it is.”

As a member of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce since 1989, Nowell has served on the board as chairman, also serving as Delta State activities chairman and on Leadership Bolivar County. Her dedicated service garnered the President’s Award in 1992 and the Chamber Award in 2017.

She also served on the Team Cleveland (Cleveland Main Street) Board of Directors, as well as a member of the Cleveland Music Foundation as a member of the board of directors, president and co-chair of the Red Carpet Guild Society. She serves as a member of the Cleveland-Bolivar County United Way fund distribution committee and has been a member of the Crosstie Arts Council board of directors. As a member of the First United Methodist Church since 1997, she has spent time serving as a member of the trustees committee, administrative board, finance committee and the staff-parish relations chairman.

Nowell has also found time to volunteer with the Sunny Seniors Alzheimer’s Respite Program, the Delta Arts Alliance, Friends of Bolivar County Library, Friends of the Delta Music Institute, Cleveland School District Mentoring Program and Delta Home and Garden Club. Her Delta State volunteer service extends through the Kappa Delta Alumnae Association, Bologna Performing Arts Center annual member, Statesmen Club and as a Delta State Alumni Association life member. She is married to Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell and has two children, Meg Nowell Harris and Hunter Nowell, and four grandchildren.

William Morehead

Dr. William Morehead served at Delta State from the fall of 2000 until he retired in June of 2011 and was honored with the S.E. Kossman Outstanding Faculty Award. He was also honored with the title of chair and associate professor of accountancy emeritus.

During his tenure at Delta State, he filled several roles including vice president for finance and administration, interim dean of the College of Business, chair of accountancy, computer information systems and finance, and associate professor of accountancy. He earned his undergraduate degree at Delta State and while there met his wife, Audrey Mitchell Morehead.

“Now that I’m at Mississippi College – but I go way back to when the Delta State and MC rival was a big deal. Now I get a lot of ribbing. I still have my Delta State tags, and I bleed green,” Morehead said. “My wife and I met at Delta State, and we have a lot of great friends there. Delta State has a huge place in our hearts because that’s where we started life.”

Morehead credits several professors with putting him on the path for success.

“John Yerko, Tony Wilson, Kent Evans and John Quon,” he said. “Particularly, John Yerko whom I patterned a lot of things after. I will never ever forget having the opportunities that Delta State has afforded me and set me in the right path.”

The Greenville native also has a master’s degree from Millsaps College and a doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. Before coming to Delta State, Morehead worked for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health for 10 years as the CFO of two state hospital facilities. He also worked with the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration and the Mississippi state auditor’s office.

Richard Fulwood invested about $3,800 in his education at Delta State from 1968 to 1972.

“I still tell people that was the best investment,” Fulwood said.

Since graduating, Fulwood has spent more than 30 years in business and has helped get some of America’s best known retail companies off the ground.

“That base education pretty much set the foundation for my success. I didn’t set out to become a career retailer, but I was drawn into it by a couple of friends I met while in college at Delta State who started a business,” he said.

From an 18-store men’s wear chain based out of Nashville, the trio sold the business, and Fulwood went on board with Limited brands at their inception.

“We developed many of the brands you know today,” he said. “I look back at the various classes I took – whether it was a speech class or a methodology class in the political science arena or a business law class – they all have benefited me throughout my business career and have given me a better-than-average foundation to conduct myself in business.”

He applied much of what he learned when joining the Limited brands team. But his thought back in 1972 was to “go out and work for six months and come back and get my master’s degree. But I started working and never went back to school.”

He also noted his professors instilled foundational skills such as writing where instructors “were pretty influential in shaping my world view.”

Current Delta State President William N. LaForge’s father was head of the history department during Fulwood’s time in Cleveland. The way the elder LaForge tended to his teaching business left a definite impression on Fulwood.

“I used him as a role model throughout my business career because he was such an effective instructor,” he said. “Outlining a course, teaching his points, ending his classes exactly as the bell rang – he made his last word in the last sentence of the class that day, and that so impressed me to this day that when I talk to a large group of managers and executives, I make certain that I’m on target, on point and very succinct. That goes a long way in a business career.”

The Benoit native became a sales and branding expert with more than 30 years in business and founded two small businesses in addition to holding senior management positions with some of America’s best-known retailers. Fulwood was a key member of the team that developed the founding processes for Victoria’s Secret, Limited Stores, Express Stores, New York and Company, Justice, Bath & Body Works as well as Footlocker. He now is turning that expertise toward his own company, the Viktoria Richards Chocolates, a business he runs with his family.

“Many times in my business career I think back to the things I learned from a liberal arts education that Delta State provided – probably one of the best liberal arts education anyone could ever have. I started my business career as an educator and the after effect of that is there are business people across the United States that I was instrumental in teaching them how to become successful business people. It all comes from the teaching approach I learned at the school.”

Each one is special. Each one a proud Statesmen. Each one now a Delta State Alumni Hall of Fame inductee.

The award recipients will be recognized during Homecoming festivities on Nov. 10 at the Alumni Awards Gala at 7 p.m. at the Cleveland Country Club. The event is open to the public.

The official hashtag for the 2017 Homecoming is #DSUHC17. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To purchase tickets to the Alumni Awards Gala, contact the association at 662-846-4660 or http://www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/homecoming2017.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).